PSU season snapshot: 1979

A daily series featuring each Penn State football season from 1947-2019:

Year: 1979

Coach: Joe Paterno

Final record: 8-4

Final ranking: AP No. 20, UPI No. 18

Regular-season wins: Rutgers, Maryland, Army, Syracuse, West Virginia, N.C. State, Temple

Regular-season losses: Texas A&M, Nebraska, Miami (Fla.), Pitt

Bowl game: Beat Tulane, 9-6, in the Liberty Bowl

Team stat leaders: Matt Suhey rushed for 973 yards; Dayle Tate passed for 1,179 yards; Brad Scovill caught 26 passes for 331 yards; Lance Mehl had 99 tackles; Larry Kubin had 15 sacks; Giuseppe Harris intercepted 3 passes

All-American: DT Bruce Clark

Neil Rudel’s take: This was a season where everything went wrong. Paterno, by later admission, took more than a year to recover from the Alabama disappointment and lost the team. There were arrests, injuries and lopsided losses (to Texas A&M, Nebraska, Miami and Pitt) as the Lions weren’t ready for their beefed-up intersectional schedule. Jim Kelly — recruited as a linebacker by PSU — quarterbacked the ‘Canes, and Howard Schnellenberger declared the win “the day we turned our program around.” The trashing to Pitt was punctuated by the Lions’ first blocked punt in 10 years. The final record said 8-4, including a 9-6 win over Tulane in the Liberty Bowl, but it was much worse.


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